Project A, MSAN-inspired
ARHS student members of the Minority Student Achievement Network have the opportunity to travel to a great conference each year, and then, afterward, make an action plan based on what they learned there to better the lives of students at our school.
Dean of Students and MSAN advisor Mary Custard led the trip to Chapel Hill, North Carolina this fall, from October 12-October 15. “It was a good trip; it was nice to go down south,” she said. While in North Carolina, the eight students and two chaperones visited a few colleges: Chapel Hill, UNC, and Duke. Ms. Custard said a hurricane led to floods prior to their arrival, but the area where they were staying was unaffected.
MSAN scholars have attended many conferences over the years. Ms. Custard said that, while there, they begin to brainstorm action plans that “bring awareness to supporting students of color.”
Project A is the action plan that the students developed upon returning this year. Senior Ali Abdel-Maksoud described it as “an after school tutoring program,” staffed by academic teachers, after school, in the Academic Achievement Center in rooms 133-135.
“Whatever we can do to help kids achieve their goals, and close the achievement gap,” Abdel-Maksoud said, “[we will do.] By the end of the year we hope the students will gain something from this. We want to listen to what they say [and find out if they] have made progress.”
The main focus question of the conference that created this action plan was was, “How does racism impact students of color in the education system? And what ways we can continue to support these students of color?”
Abdel-Maksoud said the trip was “really fun and educational as well.”
“We met people from all around the country,” he said. “We are very lucky to have what we have compared to others.”
While at the conference, many topics were discussed including racial microaggressions, which are, according to Columbia professor Derald Sue, “brief and commonplace daily verbal, behavioral, or environmental indignities, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative racial slights and insults toward people of color.”
They also discussed the achievement gap between whites and students of color.
Abdel-Maksoud said the conference inspired him.
“You gotta work hard for your family, help your family and community around you,” he said. “You want to help better this world, even if it’s just a little contribution. We want to leave this world better than we came into it.”
Ms. Custard said that MSAN gives students of color “space to be who they are and an experience with other students of color around the country.” She said the conference allows students to “feel comfortable and happy to be a majority for once.”